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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Deathly Diversions

The once-a-river-now-a-drain which divides east Delhi from the rest of it, mythologically has a brother. The sister now maybe an embodiment of death and decay, but Hindus regard the brother - Yama - as the harbinger of the final farewell. Astride a buffalo, a mace in one hand and a rope in the other - he rules over the afterworld and strikes terror in the hearts of mortals. A vision not meant to entertain. But it does.

Of the 330 million gods and goddesses, it is he - the death god - who features in more non-mythological films and television serials. In his CRT, LCD or silver screen avatar Yama's arrival doesn't signify the end - it lightens the mood. Death is the comedian here.

Death is not funny, but black comedy makes us laugh. We know not what lies beyond, we only assume according to our beliefs. Some glorify death - the glorification is a necessity. Governments do it, militant groups do it. But while we are still breathing, why should we let something with a certain conclusion but uncertain timing come in the way?

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell;
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

~ John Donne


K said...

Interestingly, according to myth, Prajapati created Death after he had created everything because without Death there would be no 'continuity', of course, that is one story the other one is about Bramha creating death - here as a woman who did not do her job for millenia, because she didn't want the remorse.
etc etc etc...
Nice post!

Accidental Fame Junkie said...

Ahhhhh! Death, a grave (pun unintended) subject and Donne's immortal poem! A dark cocktail of laughter and ashes. And it is we who have to drink it all! What was Socrates's last words? Wasn't it "Crito, we owe a cock to Aesculapius; please pay it and don't let it pass"?

Rita said...

"Death is not funny, but black comedy makes us laugh" - does it?